U.S. Denies Responsibility for North Korean Food Shortage

April 30, 2011

North Korean Children

As the BBC reported this evening, after a short trip to North Korea earlier this week, former President Jimmy Carter returned to America with a clear accusation: "One of the most important human rights is to have food to eat, and for South Korea and the US and others to deliberately withhold food aid to the North Korean people is really a human rights violation.”

A few hours ago, the United States government answered back. The state department’s director of policy planning, Jacob Sullivan, stated, “Everyone should remember who is responsible for the plight of the North Korean people, and that is the North Korean government itself.”

According to the UN’s World Food Program, there are over 3.5 million undernourished civilians in North Korea due to severe food shortages in the wake of a harsh winter. Two problems keep donated food out of the hands, and stomachs, of the North Korean people: first, U.S. food aid was suspended two years ago after the North said it was not wanted. Second, a regular concern of donors to North Korea is that aid gets siphoned off to the large armed forces and does not reach those most in need.

When the crisis was first realized, state department spokesperson Darragh Paradiso said that US policy towards North Korea was “consistent with our long-standing goal of providing emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of countries around the world where there are legitimate humanitarian needs.”

What do you think? Should the United States be doing more for the plight of the North Korean people?

Photo Source: David Stanley